To celebrate their homecoming, the paintings will be displayed at the Van Gogh Museum from March 22 to May 14, 2017, before being fully restored.
Both paintings depict rural Dutch locales and were created by Van Gogh before he relocated to France in 1888. Even in those early years, Van Gogh was clearly a formidable artist and had already developed an exceptionally expressive style.
The earlier piece, View of the Sea at Scheveningen, employs sober tones and subtle hints of movement to portray the rugged Dutch coastline. As Van Gogh only produced one other seascape while living in the Netherlands, the painting is extremely historically valuable and features prominent themes that he would return to throughout his career.
Van Gogh originally painted the second canvas, Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen, for his mother in 1884 and then added more churchgoers to his work a year later. As these figures are dressed in funeral attire, art historians believe that Van Gogh may have altered the painting to mourn his father’s death. Unlike most of the museum’s collection, the painting is still in its original frame, which is dashed with stray lines of paint, where Van Gogh likely wiped his brushes clean.